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Not Simply a Sore throat

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 56 - September 2000

Among the most irritating and distressing of symptoms are those related to the ears, nose and throat (or ENT as they are known in the trade). Julia came to see me after suffering symptoms in this area continuously for about a year. She was being troubled by recurrent sore throats, every month or so, and having become concerned that something might be seriously wrong with her immune system, went to see her GP. He did all the right things, took a blood count (which was normal) and then referred her to an ENT specialist.

I should explain here that Julia's sore throats were of an unusual nature. They were a discomfort rather than a pain. They seemed to relate somehow to her tongue which she described as feeling like the tongue of a parrot – dry and hard. The right side was worse than the left and her throat felt as if there was a hand on the outside, pushing its thumb up into the right side of her neck. This sensation was particularly bad in the night and first thing in the morning.

Julia could not identify any clear event or illness that had started this whole thing off. She was generally very fit. In the past she had had her tonsils removed at the age of six and had suffered from quite nasty problems with her teeth. She had very sensitive teeth, which gave her pain if exposed to cold air. On direct questioning, she did remember that she had seemed to develop a chest infection of sorts with her last sore throat – right-sided chest pain and shortness of breath.

The trip to the ENT specialist had been reassuring but disappointing. After a thorough examination, he was able to rule out any sinister and serious cause for Julia's symptoms. This was very important, as this kind of symptom can be the sign of a tumour in the neck or throat and should always be properly investigated. Unfortunately, however, he did not feel able to offer her any treatment for her symptoms.

As in most homeopathic management, there are several ways of approaching the problem. One way is to look very closely at the symptoms themselves and to find a medicine which matches them as exactly as possible – a so-called local medicine. Another approach is to look at the symptoms in the context of the patient as a whole and to try and find a medicine which will cover both the presenting symptoms and the patient's other characteristics. This kind of prescribing is known as 'totality' prescribing.

In Julia's case, it was possible to find a medicine which covered her whole symptom picture. Furthermore, it also fitted in with her type of personality and may well represent what homeopaths call a 'constitutional' prescription. Let me explain this a bit more. In some individuals, it is possible to identify a recognizable pattern in their whole make up – personality traits, physical appearance, metabolism and patterns of ill health. If all these factors fit into one of the recognizable types, we call this the patient's constitutional type. It does not necessarily follow that they only ever have to take the medicine that corresponds to that type. For instance, a Calc carb type patient may require another medicine for a particular illness, if the symptoms fall outside the Calc carb pattern. However, homeopaths do find, to their endless fascination, that patients frequently, though not invariably, fall ill in ways that fit with their constitutional type and that the constitutional medicine will help.

As Julia told me more about herself, I became sure that she was a constitutional Causticum type. She was a very chilly mortal with a definite aversion to wind, but not interestingly, to rain. Her symptoms were strongly right sided. She described herself as a bit of a loner but it was clear that she had a very strong sense of justice. She had worked as a specialist social worker in family therapy and had been deeply committed to this very difficult work. She was not particularly keen on public speaking but would brace herself to do it because she felt so passionately about her work and her clients.

This combination of keynotes is typical of the Causticum type. I gave Julia a single dose of Causticum 30c and arranged to follow up in a month. The results had been very gratifying. Julia had the start of a bad throat only, which had lasted a few days only and after that, no throat symptoms at all. She also described her head and ears as having cleared completely for the first week or so, such that she felt she could hear and see far more clearly. This was interesting, as she had not mentioned this as a problem in the initial consultation. I find that this often happens with homeopathy. Because the patient's symptoms are all part of a recognised pattern of disturbance, if the correct medicine is chosen, it will often cure the whole package, not just the symptoms presented initially. Amazingly, the 'parrot's tongue' sensation had also completely cleared and Julia was feeling very happy indeed.

Another month later, the throat and tongue were fine, but the head and ear blockage sensation was returning. I was not surprised by this as I would have expected the action of the single dose to have waned. A further dose was prescribed which had the required effect and Julia now has a small supply of Causticum 30c to take, ONLY WHEN THE KEY RECOGNIZABLE SYMPTOMS RECUR. I have explained to her that she must not take them if she is symptom free (when she should do nothing), nor if the symptoms change (when we would have to meet again and identify a new medicine). These ground rules are extremely important. From this case it is clear how powerful even one dose of the correct medicine, given at the correct time, can be. Conversely, the wrong medicine or the wrong timing can spoil the balance completely. Homeopathic medicines although intrinsically far safer than conventional drugs, must nonetheless, be used with respect and in an informed manner if they are to meet their full healing potential.

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About Dr Angela Jones

Dr Angela Jones works in NHS general practice and also privately, using homeopathy alongside conventional medicine. Dr Jones can be contacted via the Faculty of Homeopathy on Tel: 020-7566 7800.

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